King's Business - 1948-08

adherents. That term has a wide inter­ pretation. The nominal Protestants are estimated at about 600,000, but the rest of the population are unattached, mate­ rialistic, and indifferent. Today the Roman Catholic Church is looking upon France as a mission field. While in Paris after the war, I bought a book written by two Roman Catholic priests and printed by a Roman Catholic publishing house, entitled “ France—a Mission Field.” Published in France in 1943, this book contains the findings of a survey of conditions in Roman Catholic parishes in France, and also a study of moral standards and the attitude toward religion among the people of the indus­ trial areas. Therein reference is made to the statement of a Roman Catholic priest in one French town with a popu­ lation of 40,000 who challenged anyone to find him twelve men of the working class community who were good Catho­ lics. The challenge has not been taken up. The authors go on to say that this case is by no means exceptional. In the dilemma and disillusion of post­ war Europe, many are like ships broken away from their moorings. They are “ at sea” with no port of destination and no set course. But this very condition of things provides Christian workers with a wonderful opportunity to evangelize. The other day one of our missionaries wrote, “ It seems that the young people of Europe are ready to try anything once.” There are those who would seem to be giving away before the tragedies and sufferings which they have seen, or are experiencing. This is evidenced by the popularity of the new philosophy of the Frenchman, Jean Sartres, called Existen­ tialism. In a sentence, it may be described as fostering the attitude: “What’s the use of anything? Why, nothing.” Nevertheless among these confused people, there is many a seeking heart.

An illustration is an experience I had while traveling on a crowded train from Paris to Marseilles. Near me, two young Frenchmen were in earnest discussion, and I was able to follow the trend of their conversation. They were grappling with some of life’s .problems, and were deeply concerned about conditions in their country. When I heard the name of Christ mentioned, I was soon inquiring as to their knowledge of Him. Upon discover­ ing the limitations of that knowledge, I quickly pulled out my New Testament, pointing out to them some passages which had to bear directly upon their problems. Their interest was quick to be seen, so I went on to give them my testi­ mony and to speak of the power of the living Christ and the gospel. The result was that each of them gladly accepted a New Testament which I offered, after I had expained something of its contents. Then one of them gripped my hand and his words were most challenging: “ It is people like you with this message that our land needs today,” he said. Who can tell what may result from such a conversation, and from the read­ ing of those New Testaments'? One woman who has been brought to the Lord through the gift of a New Testa­ ment by one of our missionaries in Southern France has now opened her home to friends and neighbors for a weekly Bible study and gospel hour. The missionary, who gladly accepted this opportunity, reports that during the first twelve months about thirty people came to the Lord. We know that atheistic Communism is straining to take advantage to the full of this situation of confusion and uncertainty. While we were part in a conference on evangelism in a mining town in the northeastern part of France in 1946, a Communist orator came to

speak to us in the Protestant Church. He told us frankly that the working classes were looking for nothing from the church today. He said the church was through. The following evening, a French evangelist replied to him, not in the church, but in the main public au­ ditorium of the town. He spoke for an hour and a half, and was given rapt attention. With great sincerity and pas­ sion he proclaimed from the New Testa­ ment, the risen, living Christ as the Saviour of men, with such effect and power that when opportunity for dis­ sent or question was given at the close of the meeting, not a voice was raised. The whole crowd left in a thoughtful mood. In a conversation with him after­ ward, the French evangelist, explaining the situation, said to me, “ So many of these people are opposing a distorted and wrong conception of Christianity. They do not know the New Testament and are conversant only with a Church and system which has compromised much in the interest of political power and worldly gain.” The day of opportunity which may be fast slipping away confronts us in large areas of Europe today. Millions of people on that continent, in its broken and rest- Jess condition, stand at the crossroads. Their choice will be far-reaching in its effect. Pray for Europe, and so take part in the spiritual struggle. Send relief par­ cels, and so open doors for the gospel. Scriptures are sorely needed. Help in the training and support of European nationals will make a vital contribution. Bible teachers and young people’s work­ ers from the United States are being much used, and are needed. “ And they beckoned unto their part­ ners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them” (Luke 5:7).

A Slovak family which has been perse- . cuted for their Christian faith; the father suffered imprisonment. Page Seven

A French woman who lost her home three times in two world wars, her son

Typical Street Scene in Southern France,

and her husband.

A U G U S T , 1 94 8

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